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Howard County residents to vote on ‘Orneriest Indian’ name statement

Area residents have a unique opportunity to help re-write their community history story, when the Howard County Historical Society and the county historical alliance put an apocryphal statement – that Kokomo was named for “the orneriest Indian around” – on trial before an actual judge.

The “trial” will be part of the program for the Historical Society’s annual meeting on Thursday, Oct. 17, beginning at 6 p.m. at Rozzi’s Continental Ballroom, 920 Millbrook Lane.

Appearing before Judge William Menges of Howard County Superior Court 1, historian Tom Tolen for the defense and writer Gil Porter for the prosecution will present evidence for and against the authenticity of the statement long repeated in accounts of the founding of the Howard County seat. Dinner attendees serving as “the jury” will then vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as to whether town founder David Foster actually said that “Kokomo was named for the orneriest Indian around.”

The Oct. 17 annual meeting program will also include a presentation from Doug Peconge, the assistant tribal historic preservation officer for the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma, a federally recognized tribe. The Miami Tribe of Oklahoma is located in Miami, Okla. The tribe has more than 650 citizens living in Indiana and a cultural resource office in Fort Wayne.

To commemorate the 175th anniversary of the founding of Howard County, the Howard County Historical Alliance, a cooperative of local history organizations and museums that includes the new Early History Learning Center, is working with local Native American organizations to extensively review government records and historical documents. The result has been important new findings about the area’s origins, which were recently presented by the historical society in its “Footprints” publication and included in an online video presentation..

“Research is revealing some curious results regarding the statement, and whether Foster actually said it,” said Dave Broman, historical society executive director. “We’ll have some fun presenting this ‘mock trial’ before Judge Menges as we try to separate fact from fiction – and we invite the community to join us and be the jury.”

The price to attend is $35 for society members and $45 for non-members. Tickets cover the program and dinner by Rozzi’s Catering. Reservations can be made online at , by phone at (765) 452-4314, or in person at the Howard County Historical Society office at 1218 W. Sycamore St.

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